By Katie Hoffman
Maybe you pick them yourself. Or maybe you purchase them from one of our Fall Line Farms & Local Roots producers. But there's no doubt that, in the middle of February, when there's snow on the ground and it's cold outside, there's nothing better than being able to make yourself a nice berry cobbler or some muffins filled with summer berries. Freezing your summer berry haul ensures that you can enjoy them all year, until next year's crop comes in.
Freezing berries is easy and quick, and freezing them individually makes them easier to measure out later for recipes. If you just put unfrozen berries in a bag and seal them up, they stick together and come out as a clump. If you freeze them individually on a tray, you can seal them up in an airtight bag and then measure out only as many as you actually need later for a smoothie or a recipe.
To freeze them individually, spread the berries out on a jelly roll pan in a single layer. You can put parchment or wax paper under them if you like, but you can also just put them right onto the pan. Make a level spot for the pan in your freezer, and carefully place it in that space. Leave your berries in the freezer for at least five or six hours. Overnight works well, too! You want the individual fruits to roll around like marbles on the sheet pan when you take them out.
Using a wide spatula, carefully loosed the frozen berries and scoop them into a freezer bag. Press the extra air out of the bag. You'll be able to just dip a measuring cup in later to use your fruit for a recipe.
We use a vacuum sealer at my house to freeze berries in two-cup batches. Freezing them individually first means that they aren't crushed by the sealer. (I usually freeze in 2-cup batches.)
Store the berries in the back of the freezer, where they are less likely to melt and stick together. We hope that you'll enjoy fresh, local berries well into the winter season!